Reports & Resources
Much has been written about the plight of rural communities and the failed policies that have led to so much hardship. Some of the most relevant research and policy-related reports on these topics include:
Family Farm Action Alliance
This report provides the latest updated data on the state of corporate power in agriculture and food systems, as well as documenting proposals to decentralize and democratize concentrated wealth and power.
This report highlights a new approach to rural economic development, infrastructure and public health policy.
Aspen Community Strategies Group
This report highlights what’s working and who to work with for high-impact rural development policies and funding.
Center for American Progress
This report describes the systemic food system discrimination that led to massive Black land loss and outlines policy recommendations for corrective action.
Relief, Recovery, and Reimagination: A Federal Policy Agenda to Meet This Moment in Rural and Small-Town America
This policy document describes community-based organizations’ efforts to listen to, and respond to, rural voters’ identified policy demands.
Often overlooked by national funders, rural America faces profound inequities, but also provides an untapped source of innovation.
Three demographic trends from the 2020 Census that upend outdated assumptions about nonmetropolitan America and conclude with a call to embrace a more inclusive future for increasingly diverse and dynamic rural towns and regions.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The September 2022 report finds rural Appalachians earn less than other rural people across the country and significantly less than non-rural consumers. Rural Appalachians are more likely to have a subprime or deep subprime credit score compared to all consumers nationally and consumers in the rest of rural America, which typically leads to a higher cost of credit. Rural Appalachians are also more likely than consumers in other parts of the country to have medical debt collections on their credit record.
Northern Plains Resource Council
This report provides a technical analysis of potential job creation during coal ash cleanup at the Colstrip power plant in southeastern Montana. It shows that a thorough “high and dry” cleanup approach (or “Doing It Right”) will create hundreds more local jobs than the industry’s preferred “cap-in-place” approach at Colstrip.
The 2022 report looks at how rural America has changed. Many of the rural counties that had the biggest population gains were close to a city, had diversified, non-specialized economies, and often had a university. Counites with recreation-dependent and/or retirement destinations also grew. Counties that lost population tended to depend on farming, mining, or oil and gas.
Black Appalachian Coalition and the Ohio River Valley Institute
Across policy issues there is a common need for Black storytelling and participation as a precondition for policymaking. This 2022 report shows why policymakers should value creating spaces for groups that have been historically oppressed or ignored to share their stories, and on helping shift narratives to accurately reflect the region’s past and present.
Ohio River Valley Institute and Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center
The 2023 report provides damage assessment and policy recommendations based on a recovery efforts from a recent flood. It estimates the number of damaged homes, cost to rebuild from a recent flood, demographic backgrounds of households with damaged homes, and the housing aid received.
Association of Community College Trustees
Rural communities face common challenges. Chief among these are inadequate broadband connectivity, lacking public transportation, and limited access to affordable high-quality childcare. Rural community colleges also struggle to fill faculty and staff positions, and many rural college leaders find that their concerns are not always reflected in national discourse on postsecondary issues. While the current public health crisis has increased attention to many of the issues in rural areas, it has also increased the severity of those challenges. But small and struggling needn’t be the only narrative.